National Security Cutter
USCGC Bertholf, the first National Security Cutter
|Name:||Legend-class National Security Cutter|
|Preceded by:||Hamilton-class cutter|
|Cost:||$684m(average), $735m(FY13 ship)|
|Displacement:||4,500 long tons (4,600 t)|
|Length:||418 feet (127 m)|
|Beam:||54 feet (16 m)|
|Draft:||22.5 feet (6.9 m)|
|Speed:||Over 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)|
|Range:||12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi)|
|Complement:||113 (14 Officers + 99 Enlisted)|
|Aircraft carried:||2 x MH-65C Dolphin MCH, or 4 x VUAV or 1 x MH-65C Dolphin MCH and 2 x VUAV|
|Aviation facilities:||50-by-80-foot (15 m × 24 m) flight deck, hangar for all aircraft|
The United States Coast Guard 's National Security Cutter (NSC), also known as the Legend-class cutter and Maritime Security Cutter, Large, is the largest of several new cutter designs developed as part of the Integrated Deepwater System Program. Eight ships are in the Program of Record.
The Legend-class cutters are the second longest of all U.S. Coast Guard cutters, behind the research icebreaker Healy, and will replace the twelve Hamilton class cutters in service. These cutters are envisioned by the Coast Guard as being able to undertake the entire range of the High Endurance Cutter roles with additional upgrades to make it more of an asset to the Department of Defense during declared national emergency contingencies. These vessels can be used for intercepting suspect vessels, or for rescuing swimmers, fishery protection, maritime homeland security missions, counter terrorism, or coastal patrol missions. To facilitate intercept missions, the Legend class can carry and launch both the Short Range Prosecutor and the Long Range Interceptor RHIBs.
Legend-class cutters have increased data link bandwidth. The EADS North America TRS-3D radar system provides three-dimensional air and surface search functions and is used in the LCS program as well as the German Korvette 130 program. The cutters are also equipped with the AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare (EW) system used in the DDG-51. The Legend class is equipped with the same 220 rpm Bofors 57 mm gun as mounted on the USN's Littoral combat ships. The Missile Defense duties are handled by the MK 36 SRBOC decoy systems also used on the FFG-7 and CG-47 programs and the CIWS. The sonar is reported as having mine and underwater swimmer location ability.
The first NSC, USCGC Bertholf, entered sea trials in February 2008. She has been in service since August 2008, and is homeported at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, California. A second NSC, Waesche, is also homeported in Alameda in 2010. Construction of Stratton - which now carries a crew of 123 - began in 2008 at Northrop Grumman's Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The vessel was christened by first lady Michelle Obama on July 23, 2010, and released to the custody of the Coast Guard on September 2, 2011. She is now in service in Alameda. Construction on the fourth NSC, USCGC Hamilton (WMSL-753), began in 2011. The Fleet Mix Analysis (FMA) Phase 1 study in December 2009 called for nine NSCs, but there are eight ships in the Program of Record and only seven hulls have been funded as of the FY2013-17 capital investment plan.
On 7 July 2009, the Government Accountability Office reported that delays in the NSC program are likely to result in "the loss of thousands of cutter operational days for conducting missions through 2017." The GAO also reported that month that problems in the NSC program have delayed the OPC program by five years. The program was also plagued by structural issues; the Coast Guard historically uses its cutters extensively, typically 180 days at sea a year, furthering the problem this will often be in North Pacific and North Atlantic waters that are some of the roughest seas in the Northern Hemisphere. As such, the stresses on the Cutters are expected to be very severe. Structural Analysis showed that some parts of the cutter could be expected to survive only 3 years. This has been addressed in cutter 752 on, with the first two cutters receiving reinforcements later. WMSL-752, the Stratton, suffered corrosion and leaks within weeks of commissioning in 2012. Earlier ships have not had that problem so it may be the result of the Cathodic Protection System being hooked up in reverse.
The delays and problems have led to cost increases. The latest USCG estimate for eight ships is $5,474 million for an average cost of $684m but hull 8 is not currently funded; the first six hulls cost $3,902m for an average of $650m/ship. The sixth NSC cost $735m in FY2012/3.
Huntington Ingalls Industries has proposed two "patrol frigates" for naval use, based on the NSC hull. Patrol Frigate 4501 is very similar to the NSC, the main differences being a modified stern ramp and a knuckleboom crane replacing the overhead crane. The crew is increased to 148, and it was offered to the US Navy as a replacement for the Littoral Combat Ship; the FY13 cost of an LCS was $446.3m compared to $735m for an NSC.
Patrol Frigate 4921 is a more radical redesign with a crew of 141, adding weapons and sensors at the expense of reducing range from 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km) to 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km). It adds a 12-cell Mk56 VLS launcher for ESSM air-defense missiles, just behind the main gun which is upgraded from 57mm to a 76 mm Super Rapid. Two quad launchers for Harpoon (missile) anti-ship missiles and a triple launcher for torpedoes are added to the stern. It retains the SeaRAM/Phalanx CIWS and 6 machine guns of other NSC variants. The stern is closed in and houses a towed-array sonar; there is a hull sonar for mine countermeasures and an ESM suite. The original "National Patrol Frigate" concept had an AN/SPY-1F air-defense radar but by 2012 the PF4921 was being shown with an Australian CEAFAR radar. This coincided with HII promoting an NSC variant for the Royal Australian Navy's upcoming Offshore Combatant Vessel project. Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Germany have also shown interest in NSC derivatives.
The planned National Security Cutters are:
- USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750)
- USCGC Waesche (WMSL 751)
- USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752)
- USCGC Hamilton (WMSL-753)
- USCGC James (WMSL-754)
- USCGC Munro (WMSL-755)
- USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756)
- USCGC Midgett (WMSL-757)
- Equipment of the United States Coast Guard
- Offshore Patrol Cutter
- USCG Seagoing Buoy Tender
- USCG inland buoy tender
- O'Rourke, Ronald (14 February 2014). "Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress" (pdf). Congressional Research Service. pp. 5–7. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
-  Page 33, GAO, 20 September 2012.
- Dieselmann Wordpress
- "National Security Cutter (NSC)". Integrated Deepwater System Program. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- "Short Range Prosecutor (SRP)". Integrated Deepwater System Program. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- "H770 DJ Short Range Prosecutor (technical specifications)" (PDF). Zodiac Group. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
- O'Rourke (31 Oct 12), page 24
- "Bertholf Sea Trials on Flickr" Coast Guard News on Flickr
- "USCG: Acquisition Directorate (CG-9)"
- O'Rourke (31 Oct 12), page 26
- "Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget and Related Performance and Management Challenges" July 7, 2009 GAO
- "Options for Combining the Navy's and the Coast Guard's Small Combatant Programs"
- Mazumdar, Mrityunjoy (24 April 2012). "Patrol Frigate Concepts from Huntington Ingalls Industries Gain Traction Internationally". Defense Media Network.
- Fein, Geoff (25 April 2012). "HII seeks exports for redesigned NSC". Jane's Defence Weekly: 8.
- O'Rourke (31 Oct 12), pages 4 & 51
- Ewing, Philip (13 April 2011). "The phantom frigate". Military Advantage (DODbuzz).
- "HII Targets RAN SEA1180 Project". The Navy (Navy League of Australia) 74 (2): 18. April 2012. ISSN 1322-6231.
- Susan Gvozdas "Coast Guard lays keel for NSC Stratton" July 21, 2009 Navy Times
- "Ingalls Shipbuilding Launches Fourth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter". August 13, 2013.
Media related to Legend class cutters at Wikimedia Commons
- National Security Cutters on Ingalls Shipbuilding's official website
- National Security Cutters at USCG Deepwater site
- National Security Cutter fact sheet